Pranksters

Blog Posts

Canards For Humanity

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire

In what has become an annual American holiday tradition, the creative team behind the party game Cards Against Humanity is pulling a satirical marketing stunt. (In 2014, we talked with ringleader Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” and his reverence for Abbie Hoffman.) This time, their gimmick carries a fresh and righteous political charge.


“Cards Against Humanity is the undisputed champion of holiday promotions”
by Lindsey Quinn
The Hustle
November 16, 2017

The world’s raunchiest card game has purchased a plot of vacant land along the Mexico-US border and has hired an eminent domain lawyer to make it “as time-consuming and expensive as possible” for the Trump administration to build its proposed wall.

To fund their effort, CAH offered a package of “six surprises” for $15 — all of which are now sold out.

Since the game was launched by 8 high school friends in 2011, it’s gained a reputation for pulling incredibly on-point PR stunts. Read more.

Did Fake News Skew the Presidential Election?

by
Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Prank News, Pranksters

UPDATE November 9, 2017: Paul Horner, the protagonist of this story, was found dead at home on September 18, 2017, possibly from a drug overdose. Poynter.org investigates how his websites have disappeared in recent weeks, plus other unanswered questions.


Among the myriad of influences on the presidential election results, a prominent and pervasive force has been fake news, propagated by unscrupulous merchants seeking traffic via social media. Here’s a quasi-confession of one such voice.

Here also, from NYMag.com is “An Extremely Helpful List of Fake and Misleading News Sites to Watch Out For“.


Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’
by Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 17, 2016

imrs-sm

What do the Amish lobby, gay wedding vans and the ban of the national anthem have in common? For starters, they’re all make-believe — and invented by the same man.

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he’s British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. “South Park” lawsuit last year.

But in recent months, Horner has found the fake-news ecosystem growing more crowded, more political and vastly more influential: In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, even tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google.

In light of concerns that stories like Horner’s may have affected the presidential election, and in the wake of announcements that both Google and Facebook would take action against deceptive outlets, Intersect called Horner to discuss his perspective on fake news. This transcript has been edited for clarity, length and — ahem — bad language. ” target=”_blank”>Read more

Artificially Intelligent Chat Bots vs. Email Scammers

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

Netsafe’s Re:scam to the rescue! Email scammers– prepare for an AI email deluge.


This AI Bot That Messes With Email Scammers As Long As Possible Is Brilliant
Digg
November 8, 2017

Take their time, save your money

​Email scammers work in bulk, blasting out tons of emails in the hopes of getting a few bites which they can follow up on. To counter this, NetSafe, an online safety non-profit in New Zealand, built Re:scam, which messes with scammers automatically:

Watch the video:

To mess with a scammer, just forward a scam email to me@rescam.org:

Re:scam can take on multiple personas, imitating real human tendencies with humour and grammatical errors, and can engage with infinite scammers all at once, meaning it can continue any email conversation for as long as possible. Re:scam will now turn the tables on the scammers by wasting their time, and ultimately damage the profits for scammers…
The aim is to waste the time of scammers, without wasting a second of yours. When you forward an email, you believe to be a scam to me@rescam.org a check is done to make sure it is a scam attempt, and then a proxy email address is used to engage the scammer. This will flood their inboxes with responses without any way for them to tell who is a chat-bot, and who is a real vulnerable target. Once you’ve forwarded an email nothing more is required on your part, but the more you send through, the more effective it will be [Re:scam]

Suburban Camouflage

by
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, The History of Pranks, The World of the Prank

All’s fair in war, (and the love of deceit) including manufacturing urban landscapes. The podcast 99 Percent Invisible has built its audience on the power of paying attention to details that most people don’t think about… or even know. From its blog comes this tale of an aircraft manufacturing facility concealed within a fake neighborhood in Seattle.


“Prop Town: The Fake Rooftop Suburb That Hid a Whole WWII Airplane Factory”
by Kurt Kohlstedt
99 Percent Invisible
November 3, 2017

Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing facilities were critical to the World War II efforts of Allied forces. But the unexpected attack on Pearl Harbor stoked fears of potential aerial assaults by Japanese forces. Some factories put up camouflage netting to disguise structures, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took things a big step further on top of the Boeing Plant 2 in Seattle, crafting an entire faux neighborhood.

By the mid-1930s, Boeing’s old Plant 1 was becoming increasingly outdated. Interested in keeping the company local, an area truck driver offered to sell Boeing a large plot of land (for a nominal one-dollar fee) on which to build a new factory. Plant 2 was designed and erected to apply modern assembly-line technologies and speed up production.

This new complex grew and expanded, ultimately spanning 1.7 million square feet. It would come to facilitate the assembly of B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-29 Superfortresses, B-47 Stratojets, B-52 Stratofortresses and other aircraft through and beyond the war. Read more.

Bulgarian Superhero Shenanigans

by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Bulgarian vandals are disrespecting Soviet military monuments, and the Russian government wants them to cut it out right now. H/t Naomi.


“Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes”
By Staff
Earthly Mission
October 20, 2017

According to a report by the Moscow Times, pranksters in Bulgaria are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that Soviet military heroes look like American Superheroes. Needless to say, the Russians are not too happy about it.

Watch the video and then read more:

Noted Twitter Conservatives Exposed as Russian Ops

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Spin

It’s been a year since the 2016 US presidential election. As part of the larger story of Russian interference on behalf of President Donald Trump, the fever swamp of conservative digital media is starting to look a lot more mysterious. The story of “Jenna Abrams,” exposed in The Daily Beast, is fascinating by itself, and it appears to be the rim of the rabbit hole.


“Two popular conservative Twitter personalities were just outed as Russian trolls”
By Rob Tornoe
Philly.com
November 3, 2017

Jenna Abrams was a popular figure in right-wing social media circles. Boasting nearly 70,000 followers, Abrams was featured in numerous news articles during the 2016 election, spotlighted by outlets as varied as USA Today, the Washington Post, the BBC, and Yahoo! Sports. Her tweet about CNN airing porn during Anthony Bourdain’s show (it didn’t) was reported by numerous outlets.

According to information released by House Democrats earlier this week, Abrams was one of more than 2,750 fake Twitter accounts created by employees at the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” funded by the Russian government based in St. Petersburg. In addition to the Abrams account, several other popular conservative social media personalities — @LauraBaeley, SouthLoneStar, Ten_GOP — were all revealed to be troll accounts. All have been deactivated on Twitter.

According to the Daily Beast, the agency developed a following around the Abrams account by offering humorous, seemingly non-political takes on pop culture figures like Kim Kardashian. The agency also furnished the fake account, which dates back to 2014, with a personal website, a Gmail account and even a GoFundMe page.

Once the Abrams account began to develop a following, the tone of its tweets shifted from pokes and prods at celebrities to divisive views on hot topics like immigration and segregation. Read more.

Sim Cities

by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Illusion and Magic, Prank News, Pranksters

Photographer Gregor Sailer’s new book focuses on incredibly detailed, entirely uninhabited, completely fake urban landscapes.


“These Cities Might Look Real But They’re 100% Fake”
By Laura Mallonee
Wired
October 25, 2017

Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script; the occasional humvee or tank rumbling by. But you won’t find it anywhere near Mosul. It’s a stage set at Fort Irwin, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents.

“It’s a lonely place, full of buildings no one will ever live in,” says photographer Gregor Sailer. “It’s like a ghost city—the wind smashing the doors, blowing through the streets.”

Sailer captured Junction City and 21 other fake urban landscapes for his fascinating new book The Potemkin Village. They include a New York-themed town in Sweden built to test cars for road safety; a Russian city with elaborate facades disguising forlorn buildings; and a Dutch hamlet in China that tourists visit for a taste of Europe. “Sometimes they’re more real and other times they’re more an illusion,” Sailer says. “I’m jumping between these two worlds, and that’s what makes it exciting for me.” Read more.

Artists Stage a Spectacle for Passing Trains

by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

How to get the attention of an audience on the go…


“German artists stage a quirky performance for passing trains”
by Rusty Blazenhoff
BoingBoing
September 21, 2017

Over 500 volunteers and residents in the “Bewegtes Land” art project entertained passengers with a super fun and quirky art performance, all happening along the train’s nearly 19-mile route.

Watch the video to see how they surprised their moving audience along the way.

The route went from Jena to Naumburg, a quiet area in the Saale valley’s countryside not known for tourists. Read more.


Confessions of a Social Engineer

by
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Working at the dangerous intersection of technology and security, social engineers help organizations stay safe(r) by exposing their vulnerabilities. Often, this relies less on advanced coding skills than it does on old-fashioned behavioral psychology and the reflexes of a trickster. In this humorous account, an infosec con artist spills her secrets.


“How I Socially Engineer Myself Into High-Security Facilities”
By Sophie Daniel
Vice
October 20, 2017

Hello! My name is Sophie and I break into buildings. I get paid to think like a criminal.

Organizations hire me to evaluate their security, which I do by seeing if I can bypass it. During tests I get to do some lockpicking, climb over walls or hop barbed wire fences. I get to go dumpster diving and play with all sorts of cool gadgets that Q would be proud of.

But usually, I use what is called social engineering to convince the employees to let me in. Sometimes I use email or phone calls to pretend to be someone I am not. Most often I get to approach people in-person and give them the confidence to let me in.

My frequently asked questions include:
What break-in are you most proud of?
What have you done for a test that you were the most ashamed of?

What follows is the answer to both of these questions. Read more.


The Spooky History of a Time-Travel Hoax

by
Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Media Pranks, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, You Decide

For some retro Halloween fun, this fascinating oral history dives into a carefully constructed paranormal e-drama from the early ’00s.


“The Oral History of John Titor, the Man Who Traveled Back In Time to Save the Internet”
by K. Thor Jensen
Thrillist
October 19, 2017

Anyone can be anybody from the other side of a screen: a Nigerian prince pleading for money; a lonely housewife “catfishing” a romantic interest; or a 14-year-old girl posing as just about anyone. From the “bonsai kitten” scandal of 2000 to the Lonelygirl15 “vlogs,” the internet has proved itself to be fertile ground for hoax-makers, scam artists, and digital charlatans.

One legendary hoax captivated fans of the supernatural and the paranormal like few others. November 2, 2000 saw the first online post by the individual who would come to be known as “John Titor.” Titor claimed to be a man from the future, sent to the past to retrieve… a portable computer. Though shrouded by forum avatars, his specific instructions on what he was here to accomplish, and what society would look like in his version of the future, kicked off a frenzy of investigation, speculation, and deception that has lasted for nearly two decades.

Some people believed “John Titor” completely. Others became obsessed with errors and inconsistencies, digital detectives trying to uncover the truth behind the story. Before it was over, Titor would make his way to an animation studio in Japan, a wrestling ring in Pennsylvania, and a prison cell in Oregon.

This is his story, as told by the people who fell deep into it.

Read the whole story here.


Russian Punk Legend Pussy Riot Gives Trump a Special Performance

by
Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Donald Trump’s real estate holdings have provided excellent venues for pranksters, performance artists, and activists of all stripes. The Russian activist punk band Pussy Riot is using Trump’s Russia controversies to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners – and they know of what they protest.


“Pussy Riot storms Trump Tower”
by Gabrielle Fonrouge
The New York Post
October 24, 2017

Pussy Riot is at it again.

The infamous Russian feminist punk rock group, clad in bright dresses and wool masks that covered their faces, stormed Trump Tower on Monday night to protest the incarceration of political prisoners.

Hidden behind their usual makeshift balaclavas, this time in green, pink and purple, the women unfurled a massive sign from an upper floor of the 58-story skyscraper that said “Free Sentsov” and dropped what appears to be a series of photographs, [the] video shows.

Frantic security guards rushed up the stairs to stop the girls, who were not arrested for their actions as portions of Trump Tower are open to the public.

“We’re calling on you today to raise attention to two guys from Ukraine: film director Oleg Sentsov and anarchist Olexandr Kolchenko, who are in Russian prison right now. Sentsov got 20 years in prison, Kolchenko got 10 years. Because they, like you, did not sit by — they were fighting for their freedom in Crimea, which was annexed by Putin,” the bad-girl group posted on Facebook.

“We decided to do an action right now, while we are in New York, with activists here because we believe there are no borders to our solidarity.” Read more.

Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Exist is Now in the Fed’s Sites

posted by
Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

15 year old Brady Olsen ran for President in 2016. It was his way of dissenting against the 2-party system. He did a pretty good job of it. Now that his story is history, the Feds have decided to pursue him on a technicality… faulty paper-work. They’re trying to stop other pretenders from making a mockery of our mock-worthy election system. Maybe in 20 years he’ll run for real.


Deez Nuts, the Iowa Teenager whose 2016 Presidential Campaign went Viral, in Trouble with Feds
by Julia Glum
Newsweek
September 28, 2017

Deez Nuts is having a hard year. First, he lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. And now, he’s in trouble with the Federal Election Commission.

On Wednesday, the FEC notified Deez Nuts — the nom de campaign of Iowa teenager Brady Olson, who ran for president with a name swiped from a Dr. Dre song — that his campaign paperwork may be faulty.

Duh.

“You may have failed to include the true, correct or complete committee name, candidate name, custodian of records information, treasurer information and bank information,” the election panel said in a letter posted to the agency website on Wednesday.

It’s no secret that Mr. Nuts isn’t an actual person. Olson had revealed his true identity in 2015 and said he made up the candidate because he was fed up with the two-party system.

Olson wasn’t eligible from the start—constitutionally, presidents have to be at least 35 years old—but he was popular.

“I am a 15-year-old who filled out a form, had the campaign catch on fire, and am now putting up the best third-party numbers since Ross Perot,” he told the Guardian a 2015 email interview.

In August 2015, just after Trump launched his campaign, Public Policy Polling found that Nuts had the support of about 6 percent of voters in New Hampshire. By August 2016, as the race was entering its final stages, Nuts’ numbers in Texas showed he was more popular than Green Party nominee Jill Stein (but less well-liked than the late revered gorilla Harambe).

His campaign inspired more than a chuckle—as the National Journal wrote, Nuts “started a revolution.” Dozens of people filed forms with fake identities, like Limberbutt McCubbins, Mr. Crawfish B. Crawfish and Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks.

Read the rest of this article here.

Jared Kushner’s Attorney Exposed in Lego Fetish Porn Email Prank

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Because at this point, “high-level Trump White House insider fooled by really obvious fake email, from the same person who did it last time” is a Dog Bites Man headline.


“Prankster tricks Jared Kushner’s lawyer into believing he had Lego fetish porn on his private server”
by Mark Frauenfelder
Boing Boing
September 27, 2017

Jared “Go Daddy” Kushner is in the news for using his private server to conduct White House business. It’s only a crime if you are a Democrat, so he has nothing to worry about, but that didn’t stop prankster @sinon_reborn from convincing Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, that he was Kushner and had been emailing porn through the server.

Read more.

White People Take On Facebook Racists

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters

As most celebrities know, there are advantages to letting other people handle your social media. Significantly, you don’t have to spend hours of your day engaging with strangers who hate you for no good reason. Now, a volunteer Facebook group gives non-famous people of color the same advantage.


“These White People Will Respond To Your Racist Trolls So You Don’t Have To”
by Sara Ruiz-Grossman
The Huffington Post
September 19, 2017

“If a white person is filling your social media with white nonsense ― anything from overt racism to well-intentioned problematic statements, tag us and a white person will come roundup our own,” the group’s Facebook post reads.

The volunteer-run Facebook group, founded last year by friends Layla Tromble and Terri Kompton in Washington state, has white people respond to racist trolls online at the request of people of color.

At a time of deep political divides and tensions around racism and white supremacy, the group exists to support people of color, who are all too often the targets of online hate but are also often asked by white people to explain everyday race-related issues, from why NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to why you can’t just touch a black woman’s hair.

“It’s the responsibility of us white folks to do the emotional labor that’s required to educate other white folks ― and it shouldn’t be required of people of color again and again,” Tromble told HuffPost. “One of the goals of the service is to do some of that labor for people. Let them go have a drink and not worry about nonsense going on on their Facebook.” Read more.


The Library Pranksters Who Paid a Heavy Fine

by
Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Literary Hoaxes, Political Challenges, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks

These men pranked their local library. Homophobic outrage ensued. A bitter look back at a time of high stakes for creative pranksters.


“The Strange, Sad Story of Joe Orton, His Lover, and 72 Stolen Library Books”
by Natasha Frost
Atlas Obscura
August 9, 2017

A search warrant might seem excessive for library book hoarding—but Halliwell and Orton were no ordinary library pilferers. For over two years, Orton and Halliwell had been smuggling books out of their local libraries, the magnificent Art Nouveau Islington Central Library on London’s Holloway Road and nearby red-brick Essex Road Library—and then returning them.

Orton hid books in a satchel; Halliwell, six-and-a-half years older, used a gas mask case. They would take them home, redo their covers and dust-jackets, and then slip them back onto the shelves.

Sometimes, these alterations were obscene: a reader scanning a relatively tame Dorothy Sayers whodunit would find themselves confronted with a mystery even before they opened the book. The blurb now described some missing knickers and a seven-inch phallus, and concluded: “READ THIS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS! And have a good s*** while you are reading!” Meanwhile, the collected plays of Emlyn Williams, a Welsh dramatist, suddenly included “Knickers Must Fall,” “Olivia Prude,” “Up The Front,” and “Up The Back.” Read more.